President Obama on Wednesday ordered the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to conduct a review of the rules regarding the protections of human subjects in research -- both studies conducted in the United States and abroad. He noted the recent revalations that the U.S. Public Health Service "conducted research on sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 involving the intentional infection of vulnerable human populations. The research was clearly unethical. In light of this revelation, I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally." Obama's statement said that "[w]hile I believe the research community has made tremendous progress in the area of human subjects protection, what took place in Guatemala is a sobering reminder of past abuses." He asked for a report to be completed within nine months.
Higher Education Quick Takes
More universities are threatening to sue high schools that have similar logos or mascots, The New York Times reported. The article cited moves by Pennsylvania State University against a cougar found to be similar to a Nittany Lion -- even though the offending high school was 1,400 miles away, in Texas. The University of Texas at Austin, meanwhile, went after a Kansas high school whose logo was similar to a Longhorn design.
Just as campus health officials are celebrating their efforts to stop distribution of Four Loko, a new "mixed" product may be gaining ground among students. WFTV News reported that the hot product among students at the University of Central Florida is Whipped Lightning, which boasts that it is the "world's first alcohol-infused whipped cream." As with Four Loko, the concern is that students are especially prone to excessive alcohol use if they aren't completely aware of what they are consuming. Liquor stores near the university are seeing the new whipped cream "fly off the shelves," WFTV reported. One student told the station why: "I think it's awesome, you can throw it on some Jell-O shots. It'd be fantastic."
Kofi Lomotey last week announced his resignation as chancellor of Southern University's Baton Rouge campus on the eve of a possible board vote to oust him, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Lomotey had been in office only since 2008. He declined to comment on his decision and was praised by Southern system leaders. But the faculty voted no confidence in his leadership this month, citing his handling of budget cuts, among other issues.
A new gay student organization at Cabrillo College wants to know why the student government president vetoed the use of funds for the group's first big event -- a prom for students who weren't able to take same-sex partners to their high school proms, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. The student government president says that he's not anti-gay, but that the group was "double dipping" because it was already receiving funds from another college source. But the gay student group notes that similar funding hasn't been a problem for other groups.
College boards at public and private institutions are still dominated by men, and about half of members have business backgrounds, according to two reports released Monday by the Association of Governing Boards. The survey of more than 700 institutions found men outnumbered women by more than two to one at both public and private colleges, noting that boards were about 70 percent male at private colleges and about 72 percent male at public institutions. More than 49 percent of public trustees come from business, compared with 53 percent with business backgrounds at private colleges. There has been a small shift in other areas of diversity since 2004. The membership of private boards was 11.9 percent racial and ethnic minorities in that year, compared with 12.5 percent in 2010. At public institutions, racial and ethnic minority representation grew from 21.3 percent to 23.1 percent during the same period.
Students in Italy have been staging a series of dramatic protests across Italy -- breaking into the Italian Senate, sitting on railroad tracks, and so forth -- to protest government plans to reform higher education, The New York Times reported. Researchers have joined the protest, sleeping in sleeping bags on the roofs of some universities. The anger is over the lack of funds that has resulted in chronically overcrowded classes, the potential for new cuts, and government plans that critics say will make the problems worse. The government says its plans would provide financial rewards to institutions that perform well.
Tennessee has halted the enrollment of new students into its prepaid tuition program, after officials determined that the program could no longer be sure of having enough money to meet the obligations to new students, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis reported. The state plans to keep its commitment to students already enrolled in the program. Many prepaid tuition programs have faced difficulties in recent years as they were built on assumptions of healthy investment returns.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is raising concerns about legislation proposed in Congress and passed by legislators (but awaiting the governor's signature) in New Jersey that would require colleges to have policies to bar cyber-bullying, among other forms of harassment. The federal and state proposals are named for Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself after images of his encounter with a man were allegedly broadcast. FIRE issued a statement arguing that there are existing laws to punish those who invade students' privacy (as in the Clementi case) or who engage in harassment, and that the new legislation would create "a hopelessly vague standard that will be a disaster for open debate and discourse on campus."
Students at several Texas colleges have started hunger strikes with the aim of convincing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, to support the DREAM Act when it comes up for an expected Senate vote next week, The San Antonio News-Express reported. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for many students who came to the United States at young ages with their parents, without legal authorization, and have been educated in the United States. The hunger strike started at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has spread to involve students at UT campuses at Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg and also at the University of North Texas.